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Found 27 results

  1. I could start this story anywhere, but things only got really weird when the knife sank into my shadow and I found that I was pinned to the spot. It was at that point that I really knew that I was more screwed than I had ever been. But that's too far forward. Consider that bit a promise that things get weird in a little while, okay? I had been having fun but nothing really exceptional was happening. I had a free weekend. I was twenty-three and single, and my friends weren't, so it was a perfect recipe for me doing something stupid. Since I prefer not to endanger myself or others – normally, at least – and I live in a small town in the American Midwest, that meant a little jaunt into my old hobby. I like to explore. As a kid I'd gone spelunking a few times and found it neat, but not quite to my taste. I prefer abandoned structures; old farmhouses, boarded-up factories, anything I can get into unnoticed without damaging anything. I get in, I sketch things – with a few embellishments, sometimes – I explore, and I leave. If I don't intend to go back, I'll find an out-of-the-way corner and leave a little souvenir – a coin from my Grandfather's collection. He was amused by the idea of making the collection hard to reassemble, and left it to me as a private joke between us. I know there's a larger internet community about that, somewhere, but I've never really looked into it. I'm not into it for glory, I just enjoy making stories about the places I'm intruding on. I suspect I'd have a lot more choice of target if I lived in Europe. Nothing here that I'd sneak into is really that old. Most buildings like this one will get a local reputation. You know, the neighborhood haunted shack. Not this time. It was exactly as I'd heard from Todd – a building out in the forest. Old timbers. Sturdy-looking door. Now, there are no old-growth forests in my home state – everything got clear cut before environmental concerns were a thing – so I know that this house (well, I assumed it was a house) once sat in a clearing. It had to – one of my criteria for figuring out something was really old (by local standards) is if the timbers used to build it are too large to bring through the woods surrounding it. Definitely the case here. This building was in a ravine, a three-mile hike from the nearest road according to satellite maps. Since Todd told me about the house's existence I'd poked about to find an owner (so at least my apologies could be personalized if I got caught sneaking about) and had found nothing. It wasn't public land – as far as I could tell the paperwork for it had been forgotten, and it didn't officially exist. I was ready to about-face immediately if I came across any kind of squatter or survivalist; my suspicion was someone with connections in local government had built themselves a secret getaway cabin in the woods. Then everyone who knew what was going on had died or forgotten about it and it wound up a ripe-to-be-explored ruin. I'm not really good with architecture. It looked like some kind of extra-large log cabin, with a shingled wooden roof. No windows that I could see. The shingles made me suspect it couldn't have been neglected for that long, but there were no trails. In fact, there was quite a thicket outside. A place this far out wouldn't be plumbed; anyone inside would have to leave to use an outhouse or privy or something. No, it was clearly abandoned. I had to squeeze through the thicket, taking rather a lot longer to clear than I'd like. That's one of the reasons I like to limit my explorations to man-made structures; they are by definition made for humans to pass through. The door was actual a set of iron-bound double doors straight out of a video game. The lock was easy. Well-maintained, which was unusual to me. I eased the door open – I kinda like squeaky hinges – and for a moment I saw the dark-but-mundane interior that I had expected. Then everything lurched. I was no longer standing at the threshold of an old house in Wisconsin. Something hit me in the back – my backpack took the hit but I was still flung prone in a brightly-lit room. I skidded – briefly and painfully – across a hardwood floor, like polished mahogany floorboards. I heard the door shut behind me as a huge-but-unseen bell rang. This had not been in the cards for today. I regained my feet, slowly turning around to take in my surroundings, still not quite understanding what I was seeing yet. The room I was in now was bigger than the entire building that I had been about to enter. There was a grand staircase ahead of me, like a palace staircase or one of those wannabe-palace Southern mansions. Trophies hung from the walls, and for a moment my eyes just skipped over them – I have relatives who are very into hunting but it could never really hold my interest. I did a proper double-take a moment later. Deer don't have spiral horns; also, they have two of them. That was when I saw the knife drop at me from the upper level, hitting the ground in front of me, point-down. I reacted with remarkable aplomb, screaming only once and avoiding soiling myself, but my belated attempt to dodge drew me up short. As I said earlier, the knife had struck my shadow, buried itself in it, in fact, and when I jumped away, I felt a fierce tug back towards the knife. My shadow was unnaturally stretched out, as if pinned in place. Not yet having thought enough to realize how much I should be panicking, I looked up to see if another knife was coming. The man looking down from above was short and heavily muscled. He was naked (at least his shoulders were – he was on the upper level) but that didn't disturb me as much as the fact that he was apparently made of stone. Granite, I think. He nodded, then spoke. “You will wait there for the master. Then you will serve.” ****************** BREAK: Out of character time. Thanks for reading, and I hope you liked it. I've been in a long writing slump and am trying to get back to my roots. My first short stories were serial posts written on a message board; those were so easy to write compared to what came later. I'll try to spend an hour a night on this, if I can. Don't be afraid to critique me on anything I'm messing up, continuity errors, spelling mistakes, or general critiques of tone, relevance or the like. Updates will be put at the last post in the thread, but if discussion overwhelms I'll start attaching the latest version to the first post (if I can).
  2. First off, to save me from putting the whole thread in a spoiler tag I am going to state straight off, I hope to discuss the story and impressions of the game so this post will contain spoilers for the whole story (including the final twist at the very very end). So if you have not played it, please be wary of reading this thread. So I just spent a very happy weekend playing this game and confess that I was quite affected by the narrative (despite its quite enormous plot holes and logical inconsistencies). First off the good points: The art design and atmospheric feel of Columbia is a tour-de-force in my opinion. The city is beautiful well realised and the culture feels quite realistic (as far as games go anyway). The sound and music are also great and I did not really appreciate until the end, how well the music was used to foreshadow the multi-worlds / tears storyline. The game also had some real emotional impact for me as well. I came, quite quickly to feel a significant amount of connection to the relationship between Elizabeth and Booker and culmination of this in the final scene left me starting at the screen for a good 5 minutes in shock and no small amount of emotional turmoil. In particular I found the section climbing through the 're-education' centre listening to Elizabeth's audio journals very affecting. I was properly terrified for what she was going though and whether I would be too late to save her soul. Now, the not so good: The story is, unfortunately, more grand in ambition than in execution. When I though about it outside of the emotional investiture I had placed in it, I quickly realised that the narrative made no logical sense and the ultimate conclusion did not actually resolve anything (and is thus pretty meaningless). At the end of the day, the death of Booker at the Baptism is intended to stop the rise of Comstock in the alternative timeline. However, in an infinite multiverse, such an attempt is meaningless as only the Comstock / Booker from that particular paired timeline will be eliminated. You can always go back to another branch (previous to the baptism) and follow of forward to baptism again and have the same fork. Therefore the death of Booker doesn't really solve anything in that respect. Another issue I had was the gameplay, particularly the combat. It is pretty generic FSP stuff for the most part but has some annoying bullet management and really clunky 'upgrade' mechanics, these made the game needlessly annoying in some sections. The Vigours I found fun to play with but felt that they were not really integrated into either the environment or the populous very well. The Shock Jockey Vigour is a good example of this; the game spends a significant amount of time making you search for this so that you can power the gondola.. fine. But then this mechanic of powering stuff by using the Vigour is completely ignored for the rest of the game. The potential here would have been to use this power to provide innovative solutions to combat or power lifts or... whatever. As a consequence the actual combat in the game is only really interesting during the big set pieces with the skyrails. Also bad... Handymen... they are not a fun addition to the game.. at all! Despite all of these drawbacks though, I thoroughly enjoyed playing. The dynamic between Booker and Elizabeth and the ultimate conclusion of this had real emotional weight (which is rare for me). The logical inconsistencies and less than impressive use of game mechanics in combat did not seem significant while I was playing and only dawned on me after the fact. Anyone else played this game (which I still consider an artistic and emotional masterpiece if not a particularly ground braking one)? If so what did you think?